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Charles Barkley recalls how he became ‘Chuck’ when he joined the Suns

Phoenix's Charles Barkley celebrates as his coach Paul Westphal cheers him on as they rolled to a 104-97 victory over the SuperSonics on Friday night, May 28, 1993 in Seattle. Phoenix leads the best of seven series 2-1 with the fourth game on Sunday in Seattle. (AP Photo/Bill Chan)

You often hear Phoenix Suns legend Charles Barkley called Chuck, but the nickname isn’t something that stuck from childhood.

While reflecting on the memory of the late Paul Westphal, who passed away on Jan. 2, Barkley revealed it was the former head coach who gave him the moniker.

“I had never been called Chuck until I got traded to Phoenix,” Barkley said on NBA on TNT.

Barkley recalled that on his first day as a Sun, he was sitting around when reporters came up and addressed him as Chuck.

Confused as to who they were talking to, he told them, “My name is Charles, not Chuck.”

Westphal had apparently called him “Chuck” during a press conference earlier in the day, and from then on, the name stuck and Barkley responded to anyone who called him that.

“Every time I saw him, I told him that story,” Barkley said of Westphal. “I said, ‘Hey you changed my name.'”

The former Suns coach died at the age of 70 after battling a brain tumor he was diagnosed with in August 2020.

Westphal anchored Phoenix’s rotation between 1975-80, returned to finish his playing career in the 1983-84 season and then coached the team from 1992-95.


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